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Thursday July 11 2013
Cassano following Baggio’s steps

Antonio Cassano is hoping a move to Parma will reignite World Cup hopes. Luca Cetta sees similarities to Roberto Baggio’s move to Bologna back in 1997.

Serie A Round 2, 1997-98. The Stadio Renato Dall’Ara played host to a Bologna versus Inter thriller. All eyes were fixed on two players, both having recently made their club debuts.

It was a showdown between Roberto Baggio and Ronaldo. Both found the target as it ended 4-2 in favour of the Nerazzurri. The Brazilian displayed his blistering pace and finishing prowess, while Il Divin Codino mastered the dead ball. He netted twice, first from a wonderful free-kick that set the Dall’Ara alight. The second was a penalty, to make it three goals in two Felsinei matches. For a player who aimed to be involved in the World Cup the following summer in France, this was a perfect start to the campaign.

Sixteen years later, another creative attacker has left the bright lights of Milano for Emilia-Romagna. He too is chasing a World Cup dream in the sleepy provinces.

Antonio Cassano’s move from Inter to Parma came as a shock. FantAntonio left the club he’s long supported after just a year, on a permanent deal. It was thought a reunion between he and Walter Mazzarri – the two enjoyed a fruitful time at Sampdoria – would spark his fire. Yet Cassano declared the tactician forced him out, something Mazzarri denies. His predecessor Andrea Stramaccioni also had issues with Cassano - the player was even dropped after a verbal altercation - and his dream move became anything but dream-like.

In 1997, Baggio clashed with Milan boss Arrigo Sacchi – after also disagreeing with both Fabio Capello and Oscar Tabarez during his time there. The pair butted heads during Sacchi’s Italy reign and in Milan the situation only deteriorated. Baggio did not wear the Azzurri shirt between September 1995 and April 1997. He was recalled by Cesare Maldini and scored against Poland. Despite playing in Italy’s 0-0 draw with Georgia days before that Inter showdown, Baggio wasn’t included for the crunch two-legged playoff with Russia.

The then 30-year-old Baggio made no qualms about his aim: “I’ve chosen Bologna, a choice which makes me very happy... To find a team like Bologna in the year before a World Cup is great. Everything is at stake for me and I hope to make it to France. I want to prove that the people who have written me off are wrong.”

He did just that. By June, Baggio was back in the Nazionale setup, playing one pre-World Cup friendly. He featured in four games and scored twice in France. A total of 22 goals for Bologna – bettering his previous best of 21 in 1992-93 for Juventus – convinced Maldini and rekindled the Baggio love affair across the peninsula. He was warmly received by his new fans. Four thousand people watched Baggio’s first trial match with his new teammates, 27,000 purchased season tickets, an all-time Rossoblu record.

Renzo Ulivieri’s newly promoted side ended 1996-97 in seventh. With Baggio in tow they finished eighth and qualified for the Intertoto Cup. They would then enjoy their first European jaunt in nearly a decade. The non-ponytailed Baggio ended third in the Capocannoniere standings despite a row with Ulivieri, which had seen the No 10 dropped from the side. Baggio dispelled any doubts about his ability following two less-than-fulfilling campaigns at Milanello. After returning from France he would sign for Inter.

This is what the soon-to-be 31-year-old Cassano hopes to emulate. He too has fallen by the Azzurri wayside for some time, last featuring in the Euro 2012 Final. The Bari native was an integral figure for Cesare Prandelli in qualifying and the tournament itself, but has since not been called up. His wayward season at Inter has done no favours, especially the Stramaccioni fallout which goes against Prandelli’s code of ethics. When speaking to the media, Cassano made it clear the World Cup – a tournament he has never played at - is his ambition.

He joins a Parma side coming off a top half finish in 2012-13. They’ve started the transfer period aggressively and Cassano is their crown jewel. He’ll be bossed by Roberto Donadoni, a man who put faith in the player during his two-year Azzurri stint, and perhaps he too will drive ticket sales upwards.

There is no reason why Cassano’s international exile will continue should he enjoy a Baggio-like campaign. He admits there’s more in the tank to give. A season in the provinces could be the breath of fresh air Cassano needs to convince Prandelli he still has an Azzurri future. It did wonders for Baggio.

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Have your say...
Antonio Cassano made a great decision. He will get plenty of playing time at Parma, which will hopefully lead to him playing in the World Cup. As a Milanista, I'm also glad he left Inter. I know a lot of Milan fans dislike him because he left Milan in an ugly manner, yet I still root for him. Good luck Cassano.
on the 9th August, 2013 at 7:55pm
The article never compares the two as players, it merely suggests that Cassano is emulating Baggio in his decision to move to a province to increase his game time and hence chance of making the WC squad,,,to me that only shows that Cassano is tipping his hat to the example set by the master...There are no Baggios in Italy now but this Nazionale is crying out for a "fantastista" , and there is where Cassano must have a chance.
on the 1st August, 2013 at 3:32pm
Idiots... idiots everywhere. The article compares the players' situations, not their abilities. Lack of education and comprehension is a curse.
on the 26th July, 2013 at 8:09am
Don't get your shorts tied in a knot. Everyone knows that Cassano is no Baggio. However, you need to realize that both played for the national team and both were snubbed for a period. Baggio managed to demonstrate his massive skill at a smaller Club and force the national team to take him regardless of any personal objections. I think Cassano is hoping the same (although I admit it will be easier said than done). there are many younger options with less baggage (save Ballotelli).
on the 24th July, 2013 at 4:37pm
In all fairness, this article didnt compare the great baggio and cassano.. the writer only mention that both of them move from a big club to small club to get more playing time to earn a spot in la nazionale..as to abilities, passion and class, none can compare with the legendary Roby Baggio.
on the 23rd July, 2013 at 10:59am
I find it more blasphemous when people compare Del Piero with Baggio. Del Piero played in 7 (that's right, 7 International tournaments with Italy, and guess how many goals he scored.... 3!!!!!) Baggio on the other hand played in 3 International tournaments and amassed 8 goals. It sickens me that an ok club player gets praise as being one of Italy's greatest of all time. He was given an innumerable amount of opportunities to perform for the national team and failed abysmally each and every time..
on the 23rd July, 2013 at 1:01am
Cassano at Parma is a great move for everyone I have followed his career from when he was at Roma yes he's a nutjob but has a great hidden talent and am almost sure he will shine at Parma!
on the 16th July, 2013 at 1:36pm
I like Cassano, but Baggio is my inspiration. I can totally see why fans are outraged by this article. Baggio was one of the all-time greats and was proven for Italy.

Cassano has done ok in an Italy shirt, but that's it. There are parallels that can be made, but shouldn't regarding Cassano’s move to Parma.

Still, I enjoyed the read, chill out readers. If we pschoanalyse Luca, we'd see he just wants to talk about Baggio. That's not a bid thing is it? lol
on the 14th July, 2013 at 10:52am
Cassano's "ambition" should be to use his talent to become a great player. Then perhaps he can dream of the WC, if he'll have enough juice left.
Every time he gets a chance he manages to screw it up somehow. As Ancelotti said, "talent alone is not enough".
I would add, far from it.
on the 14th July, 2013 at 12:18am
There are no comparisions.Even looking the vast difference in skills aside,Baggio had twiced peformed well at both international tournaments he had participated in for Italy,and was someone who could make a difference.

Cassano has never performed well at any international tournament, and if Italy actually are dependent on him, then it just shows how poor the current Italy side truly is.In the 90s, with Baggio,Zola,Del Piero, Totti etc,there would have been no room for a player of Cassanos std.
on the 13th July, 2013 at 7:37pm
What a joke this article is. There are NO similarities between Baggio (world class player from 87-94) and Cassano (NEVER been anywhere NEAR to being world class.)

Cassano is one of THE most overrated players in the past 30 years. He had a good start at Bari, then went to Roma and did some good stuff, but after that it went straight downhill.

Sure he was good at Sampdoria, but that was at a time when Serie A had goen from being the best in the world, to number 3 in europe.
on the 12th July, 2013 at 9:01pm
What is everybody talking about ? Where in this article does it compare the skill of Baggio to Cassano at all ? Im PRETTY sure if you can read, you will realize this is just comparing the idea of playing a lead role on a smaller team to get to the WC, and that there is an undeniable similarity in the fact that Baggio did this in the past, and Cassano is trying to do the same now...
on the 12th July, 2013 at 8:30pm
@Frank and Anon...
If there's no comparison in the article between Cassano and Baggio then why talk about them both? I repeat: Baggio took us to the World Cup final with a hamstring injury...half a Baggio could do that. Half a Cassano = double the 'Cassanate'. There's no way Cassano could do a Baggio-like campaign because his quality is seriously lacking compared to the Divino Codino and there are far better younger players coming through the ranks who aren't as high maintenance.
on the 12th July, 2013 at 6:38pm
It is a travesty to everything Serie A stands for if we allow any comparisons between Baggio and Cassano to be published. There are comments here defending the author that no comparison is being made, instead the drawing of similarities. Cassano does not deserve any of the success he has been a part of in his life and does not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Baggio.
on the 12th July, 2013 at 6:24pm
@ anonymous ..The article is talking about two players lives and experience they had or are having and thus COMPARING! Whilst I agree that Luca is not making similarities as footballers the simple fact that Cassano is talked about in the same context as the great Baggio....well only if you are a true Azzurri fan and lived the '90s would understand why this is infuriating! Well if you don't get it, then to 90% of us bloggers your the IDIOT!!!
on the 12th July, 2013 at 6:20pm
Luca, I know your not comparing Cassano with Baggio. Rather, just their situations that do have some parallels. Do not listen to the rest of the people here saying do not compare Cassano with Baggio because, as players, you are not. Unforunately they do not see this. A
on the 12th July, 2013 at 4:59pm
Horrid comparison Luca. Granted I get that you're not comparing players outright but the situation. But still apples and oranges.
on the 12th July, 2013 at 3:16pm
@ Chino no I think people commenting on here get the article. Yes Baggio was overlooked in certain championships and moved to a smaller club just before a World Cup but so did lots of players. This is no excuse for comparing two completely different players. Panucci was overlooked most of his international career because he fell out with managers. There is no place for comparing Cassano and Baggio and it is disrepectful to one of the greatest Italian footballers.
on the 12th July, 2013 at 2:16pm
You idiots! Luca is NOT comparing Cassano to Baggio. Read it!
on the 12th July, 2013 at 2:10pm
Comparing baggio to fatantonio is a blasphemy. Baggio is a legend, a true professional who loves football. While fatantonio, is an irresponsible "teenager" who created havoc wherever he went.
on the 12th July, 2013 at 12:26pm
To compare Cassano with Baggio is like comparing Dolmio with Mamma's pasta sauce! No comparison.
Baggio single-handedly took Italy to the '94 WC final. He could carry a Nazionale. Cassano just cries all the time. Don't get me wrong, he's a great player when on form but Baggio is a legend.
@Anomymous -do you remember the Juve team of the 90s? A team is more than your strikers. We had Del Piero, Vialli, Ravanelli, Vieri, Zidane, Davids, Nedved, etc, etc in their primes! 3 back to back CL finals...
on the 12th July, 2013 at 11:31am
What players currently playing in Italy could be compared to Baggio? Diamanti, Insigne?
on the 12th July, 2013 at 10:54am
I have said it once on previous blogs that Cassano is not fit to clean Baggio's boots then and NOW!
Players like Baggio and Maldini are Italy football legends, up there with the '82 team. Anybody that lived the '90s would know this. Football is cruel when you think that Baggio/Maldini do not have a WC medal. Luca what ever next "cheddar cheese is as good as parmigiano"...."Pizza Hut is as good as the Pizza's at Da Michele in Naples?!"
on the 12th July, 2013 at 10:47am
90 percent of the comments are missing the point. You should read it again; the author is not comparing Cassano to Baggio.
on the 12th July, 2013 at 9:01am
This is utter nonsense... First of Cassano can't score 20+ goals a season, not anymore and even if he has a fantastic season it would take a miracle for a call up. Second his attitude towards this sport, the coaches and the fans is horrible. Baggio at least loved this sport and showed it on the field, while Cassano plays well only when he sees fit and that is rarely on display. Also let's not forget, with Rossi, Balo, Pazzo, SES, Insigne, Giaccherini and Osvaldo there is no room for Cassano.
on the 12th July, 2013 at 7:02am
Luca, this blog is offensive never compare Cassano with Baggio again!
on the 12th July, 2013 at 2:16am
Putting cassano's name in the same sentence as baggio's is disgusting. These two are in no way alike and neither are their situations
on the 12th July, 2013 at 1:01am
I cant beleive Football Italia would publish such rubbish, how can you compare Cassano with Baggio? you must be mad.
on the 12th July, 2013 at 12:36am
There is one problem with this theory; Baggio was one of the finest players of his generation, comparable with the greatest players that have ever played when he was in his prime. By contrast Cassano has done absolutely nothing of note (that is positive) in his whole career. 2010 was probably his last chance for a real shot at the big time but of course he fell out with the manager. There are better players available to choose from now.
on the 11th July, 2013 at 11:53pm
I would love to see him coach Italy one day so I can see him lift the world cup trophy that he never go to as a player. As for Cassano he should've been called up for every tournament since 2004. He was one of the most technical players Italy has ever seen. It's a shame how his career had to turn out. I understand that near the end of his time at Roma he had issues same thing at madrid. But i always knew his talent was one of a kind.
on the 11th July, 2013 at 9:25pm

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